Rank: Sergeant
Number: 17159
Unit: 4th Regiment South African Infantry
Date of Death: 11 April 1918
Age: 45
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

George was born in the Stockport area in 1872 and was named after his father. His mother was called Mary. The local newspaper, reporting his death, also mentioned that his brother and sister - Herbert and Frances - lived at 3 Bailey Street, Stockport and this was probably the family home.

As a young man, George had joined the regular army and served with the 16th Lancers in India and in South Africa during the Boer War. It is not known when he emigrated to South Africa but it was, presumably, some time before the Great War.

George's service papers still exist at the archives of the South African Department of Defence. An examination of these shows that he appears to have lied about his age, declaring that he was only 41, having been born on 16 June 1876. On his enlistment papers, George is shown to be a single man, serving as a regular soldier with the South African forces. He had previously been a member of the Natal Police. It is probable that he was employed in a reserve occupation within the army. He enlisted at Bloemfontein on 17 September 1917.

The enlistment papers show George to have been above average height for those days, standing at just over 5' 8" tall, and weighing 140 pounds. He had a 35" chest which he could expand a further two inches. He was a man with a sallow complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. George had given his religious denomination as Church of England. The examining doctor noted that he had a gunshot wound scar on his right elbow. George listed his brother, Herbert, as his next of kin (then living at 3 Railway Street, Stockport)

During his short time in the army, George held a number of temporary promotions. In October 1917, he was a corporal, then promoted to sergeant the following month. In January 1918, he reverted to private before being promoted to the substantive rank of lance corporal just before he died. He was probably holding another temporary promotion to sergeant when he was killed.

After training in South Africa, George left for England on 27 November 1917, arriving on 1 January. On 1 April, George went overseas on active service to France, arriving at Rouen. His War would last another 10 days.

On 9 April 1918, the Germans launched the second phase of the spring offensive in what would later be designated as the Battle of the Lys. The 4th South African Regiment was near the village of Messines (south of the Belgian town of Ypres) and they were involved in fierce fighting on the 10th.

On the morning of the 11th, they were in trenches at "Middle Farm", about 400 yards north of the village. During the afternoon, the Germans again attacked in great force on the left of the South African Brigade's front line. The 2nd Regiment was forced back about 200 yards. There was an immediate counter attack, including some troops from the 4th Regiment on the right. The main body of the 4th Regiment had also been attacked at Middle Farm and a counter attack had sustained severe casualties, but the German advance had been stalled.

About 4pm, orders were received for a general withdrawal and this appears to have been undertaken without major incident over the following hours. There will have been no opportunity to bury casualties and, although it is possible that George's body was buried by the advancing Germans, it was never properly recovered and identified. His name is now one of 52000 soldiers who have no known grave and whose name is inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing at Ieper.

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